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Exploring the Relationships between Cannabis Use Disorder Status and Reasons of Medical Cannabis Use among Hispanic/Latino Young Adults

Catalina Lopez-Quintero
University of Florida

Co-Authors: Krishna Vaddiparti, Elizabeth Castañeda, Liva LaMontagne, Juan Guillermo Perez-Carreño, Lina M Velilla-Jimenez
University of Florida

Background: Previous studies have explored the prevalence and factors contributing to the development of cannabis use disorders (CUD) among cannabis users. However, less is known about the medical reasons associated with meeting criteria for a CUD and its severity. This study aims to examine whether the reasons for using cannabis as a medicine varied across CUD status among a sample of young Hispanic/Latino adults who use cannabis.

Methods: We analyzed data from 165 Hispanic/Latino young adults (Mean age = 21.4 [SD = 0.11]; 49.4% female) recruited in South Florida. Participants indicated whether they met criteria for a cannabis use disorder in the past 12-months based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (categorized as: No CUD, Mild CUD, Moderate/Severe CUD). Participants also reported the reasons for which they used cannabis as a medicine, including: (i) reducing pain, (ii) improving sleep, (iii) increase appetite, (iv) reduce nausea, (v) improve mood, and (vi) reduce anxiety. Associations between CUD status and reasons of cannabis use were explored using multinomial regressions, while adjusting for socio-economic factors (e.g., age, sex, years of education). Associations are expressed as relative risk ratios (RRR) and their corresponding 95% confidence intervals (95% C.I.).

Results: In this sample of cannabis users, 47.3% did not meet criteria for a CUD, while 30.9% met criteria for a mild CUD, and 21.8% met criteria for a moderate to severe CUD. The most common reason cited for using cannabis as medicine was to reduce anxiety (70.9%), followed by improving sleep (64.2%), increase appetite (44.9%), reduce pain (38.2%), improve mood (33.5%) and reduce nausea (25.5%). Multinomial regression models showed that relative to those who did not used cannabis to improve sleep, individuals who used cannabis to improve their sleep had a higher expected risk of meeting the criteria for mild CUD compared to not meeting the criteria for CUD (IRR=3.6, 95% C.I.=1.4, 9.2).

Conclusions: Our results extend prior research by documenting a relationship between CUD status and use of cannabis as a medicine to improve sleep. Future longitudinal studies should explore the temporality of this association to clarify the role of sleep as a potential etiological mechanism in the development of CUD.